Born on this day in Boston, Massachusetts, philosopher and transcendentalist leader Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) believed redemption could be found in one's own soul and in the heart of intuition. A Unitarian minister for three years, he left after disagreeing with the church's doctrine.
"No man can get through me but through my act," he once said.
For a year in 1832, Emerson traveled in Europe and met with Wordsworth, Coleridge, and others including Carlyle who he carried on a correspondence with for 40 years.
"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere," Emerson believed. "Before him, I may think aloud."
In 1834, the writer moved to Concord. Like Thoreau, Emerson turned to transcendentalism, which looked to Nature for spiritual unity. "God enters by a private door into every individual," he said.
In his major essays Nature: Walking (1836) and Self-Reliance (1841), Emerson celebrated the individual spirit. He believed in the power and truth of self-examination and the unending beauty of nature and mankind. In life--the joy, loss, and grace of life-- there is higher knowledge and revelation in all things. Just look and reflect, with humility and value.
"A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us," he wrote in celebration.
More EMERSON Quotations
Oh, how wonderful YOU are.